Drama School Ambitions: an interview with Durham alumnus Rosie Weston

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It’s that time of year when wannabe actors and actresses are starting to think of applying to drama schools. Having received increasingly bad press in recent years for their inaccessibility caused by high fees and expensive living-costs, drama schools aren’t for everyone. However, year after year, thousands of budding artists descend upon these schools in the hope of winning a prestigious place on one of their programmes.

Currently studying an MA in Music Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Durham graduate Rosie Weston knows a thing or two about the audition process for drama schools. I sat down with her for a chat about her experiences auditioning and what she has learnt so far.

You studied Music at Durham before deciding to go on to do an MA in Music Theatre. What made you decide to go to university first?

I have always had so many different musical interests in addition to theatre. I wanted to go to university first so that I could explore my love of conducting and interest in music therapy as well as theatre. As soon as I got to Durham I immersed myself in theatre and music from the get-go and continued to do so for the rest of my time there. I am hugely grateful for the opportunities I received in theatre at Durham, which spurred me on to audition for a drama school masters. I’m certainly finding the benefits of doing an academic degree pre drama school in the analytic and reflection elements of my course here.

The process of applying to and auditioning for drama schools can be an intimidating process. What was your experience?

I found the audition process incredibly fun. Obviously, everybody deals with nerves differently but my strategy has always been to get into a mindset of excitement for the unexpected rather than of nerves. I auditioned for 3 places: Royal Central, Mountview and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I chose these for many different reasons: I wanted to be in London so the transition into the industry would be smoother because I’d be accustomed to life in the capital and be aware of the endless amount of art being created right on my doorstep. Royal Welsh had its appeal because of the cheaper cost of living in Cardiff and that it was close to home.

It sometimes feels as though there is no end to what you can do to prepare, but I felt it was important to focus on the things that were of greatest interest to me. I definitely felt that there was a big pressure to find the most obscure song just to stand out. Instead, I tried to think of it as a nice opportunity to delve off the beaten track to find something that really showed off my best qualities. I spent a lot of time thinking about what it is that might make me marketable or appealing to a panel. This way I could go into the audition and be confident in the fact that I was showing the best version of myself.

Did you have any memorable experiences during your audition process?

My most memorable moment was entering an audition and being paired for every section of the audition day with a girl who was my height, my build, and sounded just like me! Luckily, she was a lovely girl so we just laughed about it and supported each other through the day.

You’ve just finished your first half-term at Central, how has it been so far?

The first few weeks at Central have been so exciting! The opportunities here are endless and I have already been exposed to such inspiring teaching. It has been so lovely meeting people on my course who have the shared experience of going to university first. I am extremely excited for every challenge and the inevitable breakthrough that will be heading my way, guided by the school.

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